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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...is it jazz?

Apologies in advance if this has been taken up before.

Also, if you are a formally educated musician I'd be
interested to hear what the Academy says about this.
 

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No, but if it ain't got that swing, it don't mean a thing.
 

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If the tempo is 320 bpm, does it have time to swing? Do ballads swing?
 

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There's not much music, from the 12th century onward that doesn't use syncopation in one form or the other.

Most folks define jazz by the improvisational aspect of the music, not by rhythms.
 

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Pretty much every rule that stipulates what HAS to be present in order for it to be called jazz can be and has been broken.
 

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Jazz cannot be described in words that cannot be used to describe other forms of music. Jazz cannot be described in words that would allow someone who had never heard it to understand what it is.
 

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Dr G said:
If the tempo is 320 bpm, does it have time to swing? Do ballads swing?

Only before your high school band director yells at you (I have done both, just not the first one that fast).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Agent27 said:
Pretty much every rule that stipulates what HAS to be present in order for it to be called jazz can be and has been broken.
This response is itself jazz. I like it.
Just my opinion, not to discount
other respondents.

More answers, please.

P.S. Martinman,
Thanks for reminding me of being yelled
at by a H.S. band director. A female, and
powerful mean. Hell of a trumpet player.
And yeah, I can't think at 320 bpm.
 

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It's about a musician's relationship with her audience: a classical performer is essentially a middleman, facilitating communication between composer and audience (composer->muso->audience). A jazz musician communicates her own message directly with her audience (muso->audience). Jazz is personal.
 

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Al Stevens said:
Jazz cannot be described in words that cannot be used to describe other forms of music. Jazz cannot be described in words that would allow someone who had never heard it to understand what it is.
Kinda like trying to 'splain to someone how to tie their shoes ------ over the phone, eh?
 

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slobberchops said:
It's about a musician's relationship with her audience...a jazz musician communicates her own message directly with her audience (muso->audience). Jazz is personal.

This seems like a perfect illustration of Agent27's point. Many would argue that this is precisely the opposite of what jazz really is: that the jazz musician's role is impersonal, like that of a preacher, and is defined, primarily and fundamentally, by his or her relationship with the tradition, or as, Oliver Nelson put it, the Blues and the Abstract Truth.


Peace,
Rory
 

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slobberchops said:
...classical performer is essentially a middleman, facilitating communication between composer and audience (composer->muso->audience).
I disagree. A fine performance of classical music is as much or more about interpretation than is the typical performance of jazz.

Most jazz is not much more than a series of licks. It doesn't have to be that way, but that's how it's interpreted by the average jazz musician.

A jazz pianist once told me that playing Mozart was just "playing somebody else's ideas." But Mozart had so many more ideas than he had.
 

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Al Stevens said:
I disagree. A fine performance of classical music is as much or more about interpretation than is the typical performance of jazz.

Most jazz is not much more than a series of licks. It doesn't have to be that way, but that's how it's interpreted by the average jazz musician.

A jazz pianist once told me that playing Mozart was just "playing somebody else's ideas." But Mozart had so many more ideas than he had.
I didn't mean to belittle the classical performer's role, just to point out that I think that her musical role is fundamnetally different from a jazz performer's role. A classical performer is analgous to an actor, and yes indeed, a fine performance of Macbeth on the boards is a thing of skill and beauty, just as a performance of a Beethoven sonata in the right hands is a wonderful moment of music. And therein lies the difference... we talk about wonderful performances *of Shakespeare*, or *of Beethoven*. The performer and the composer are a combined musical force, the performer striving to get into the composer's head, and then getting that across to her audience. I get the feeling that in jazz, the composer hardly figures in the performance. She provides the head and some changes, but as performers, do we really care? Does anyone really think they are getting into Gershwin's head and trying to convey *Gershwin's* emotions to the audience when in the midst of a solo on I Got Rhythm? Surely as jazz performers we strive to bring something of *us* rather than the composer to our audience. Whereas the classicist is like an actor, the jazzer is like a bard/stroyteller/racconteur.

I take your point about the average jazz musician and her back of licks, but then I'd rather listen to an average jazz musician than an average classical clarinettist (of which I am one)!
 

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The thread topic is not "what is jazz?".

The thread topic is: If it isn't syncopated is it jazz?

The answer is: maybe.

The implication is that all syncopated music is jazz. This is not true, as every composer from Machaut to Brahms to Glass uses syncopation in their compositions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I did not mean to imply that all syncopated
music is jazz. My bad if that came across.

Here I reveal that I was checking out
a bunch of smooth jazz sound clips on iTunes.
I am not naturally attracted to smooth jazz
but I don't come here to bash it, or anyone/anything.
A lot of what I heard was not syncopated,

So, a substantial amount of music that is not syncopated
is labelled 'smooth jazz' instead of 'popular music' or
some other name. I mean, Jazz is historically and
importantly a predominantly syncopated music.

Is this substantially accurate or do I need a listening list?
Smooth jazz lovers educate me.

I'm rambling now:
Seems to be a lot of resistance to defining jazz,
especially if an exclusionary motive is perceived.
All-American anti-elitism maybe. Long-term I'd
bet that'll be good for the form. Short term, we can't
wait for that 'jazz' album from Britney Spears!
Relax! I'm not comparing smooth jazz to Britney Spears.
Come to think of it, allowing everything into jazz and
just letting the dreck fall off is the beauty of it.
 

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The fact is that the entire scope of jazz can't be summed up in a single definition.

Syncopated? Most of the time but not all.
Does it swing? Again, most of the time yes. But what about latin jazz and bossas?
Acoustic instruments? what about funk-soul jazz/fusion?
Improvisation? Yes, but there are big band charts that don't have improv.
Certain instrumentation? Lots of jazz has been recorded using atypical instrumentation.

To answer the initial question: If it isn't syncopated, yes, it is possible to still be considered jazz.
 
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